President Obama signs WRRDA into law

President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2014. Vice President Joe Biden and stakeholders share the stage with the President President Barack Obama signs H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2014. Vice President Joe Biden and stakeholders share the stage with the President Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

JUNE 11, 2014 — President Obama yesterday signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Passed with overwhelming Congressional support, the measure has been hailed by waterways and port industry leaders as providing much needed funding for critical marine infrastructure needs.

In his remarks yesterday, the President said WRRDA will "put Americans to work modernizing our water infrastructure and restoring some of our most vital ecosystems."

"As more of the world’s cargo is transported on these massive ships, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough to hold them and accommodate them so that our businesses can keep selling goods made in America to the rest of the world," he said.  "Meanwhile, many of America’s businesses ship their goods across the country by river and by canal, so we’ve got to make sure that those waterways are in tip-top shape.

"And this bill gives a green light to 34 water infrastructure projects across the country, including projects to deepen Boston Harbor and the Port of Savannah, and to restore the Everglades.  And with Congress’s authorization, these projects can now move forward.  So this bill will help towns and cities improve their commerce, but it’s also going to help them prepare for the effects of climate change — storms, floods, droughts, rising sea levels — creating more adaptability, more resilience in these communities."

PRAISE FROM PORTS

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) commended President Obama for signing the act into law.

It said the signing culminated a series of port visits by the President, Vice President and other top Administration officials over the past year, as well as statements about the vital importance of investing in port related infrastructure.

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle said, "This WRRDA legislation will produce a more efficient maritime infrastructure that strengthens our position as a global trade leader. We at AAPA appreciate the focus on ports and navigation studies by Congress and the Administration in crafting and passing WRRDA."

Mr. Nagle went on to laud the leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works who crafted the new WRRDA legislation, along with the WRRDA reforms "that enables expedited navigation project studies, creates more flexibility for capital investment and advances construction on the nation's 21st century maritime infrastructure."

"Additionally," he said, "this legislation establishes a means for donor port equity."

Mr. Nagle further noted that by establishing targets for full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues for their intended purposes, "Congress has achieved a major milestone by setting the bar for putting the 'trust' back into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund."